The first few nights were the hardest.
I guess it was fear of the unknown and being in such an alien, yet oddly familiar, environment. I soon learned the schedules the building ran too, when the generators would kick in, the ticking of the heating system as the pipes warmed in the morning, the slow electronic clicks late at night as systems started to shut down, the gentle squeak of the security guards shoes as he did his rounds.
How I got here is no big surprise. Well, perhaps the location might be to some but the more I get used to it, the more I wonder why more people don’t do it. But then, how would I know if they had?
The situation I find myself in is entirely of my own making, my betting habits getting more and more out of control, debts piling up, bailiffs kicking in doors and next thing you know you are out on the street with only a few clothes to your name.
I still don’t know how I ended up in IKEA the day it all came crashing down. They arrived in the morning, kicked the door in, woke me and told me to get out. I hastily grabbed what I could, a few clothes, a toothbrush and little more, and was marched out the door.
I wandered around in a haze, the reality of my situation slowly unfolding around me. I guess I thought that day would never arrive, that I would somehow manage to survive but I was a fool. It was a misty day and I remember thinking it matched my mood, everything partially hidden and slightly surreal.
Then the large blue and yellow letters loomed out of the low clouds and without really thinking about I headed inside. I think even then I knew what I was planning to do, but I convinced myself I’d stay for a short while to get warm again before moving on.
But as soon as I stepped inside and wandered into a mocked up bedroom area I realised I had an opportunity.
And so here it is I lie, in a hidden bedroom, under a warm duvet, whilst the air conditioning system quietly whooshes and the lights flicker and buzz into life, the alarm clock of my morning.
I know I have an hour to hide now as the first staff start to trickle into the building, so I get up and make my way through the building as quickly as possible, negotiate the warehouse, a wonderful maze of hiding places, and climb to the top of a stack, to my little home.
I don’t sleep here as it’s too cold in the winter, but it’s here I’m accumulating my life once more. A seat cushion from here, a table from there, some blankets and even a little pot plant to keep me company (he’s called Mr. Quiet as he doesn’t say much).
I’m near the staff area which means I can pilfer some personal items, it feels bad but what else can I do? It’s also handily placed near the security centre, it’s amazing how many of the cameras don’t actually work, so hardly a surprise to them when another goes offline; a simple twist and pull on a cable and I have carte blanche to wander an area unimpeded.
The other day I started to wonder if I could just stay here, after all I’ve survived 4 months undetected and I can come and go as I please. I do need a few more disguises though, my biggest fear is being recognised, hats and glasses will only get me so far.
I’m also considering pushing things a bit further, I’m pretty sure I could snag a spare uniform and, who knows, maybe I could fake my way into a job? Just turn up one day and feign innocence? Pretty sure they’d find me out.
For now I’m happy. As long as I watch my time I can drift in and out of any area I want, with free run of the kitchens and all the living rooms and bedrooms a man could ever need.
One thing is for sure though, when I get back on my feet and get my own place, IKEA is the last place I’ll go for furniture.